January 26, 2001
United States Attorney Thomas L. Strickland and Stanley M. Vann, Special Agent In Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office, announced that JOSEPH LEWIS HERNANDEZ, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was found guilty late yesterday of filing false claims to the United States after a four day trial by jury in front of U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham. HERNANDEZ was named in a 13 count indictment by a federal grand jury in Denver on February 25, 1999 for filing false claims with the Internal Revenue Service. HERNANDEZ was found guilty on 12 of the 13 counts and could be sentenced up to five years imprisonment and fined up to $250,000.00 for each of the counts of conviction.
According to the indictment, HERNANDEZ, then a resident of Denver, Colorado, allegedly filed or aided and abetted in filing 13 false claims involving the preparation of false U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns, Forms 1040, 1040EZ, and 1040A, for the years 1990 through 1993. The returns were filed with the United States Treasury Department, through the Internal Revenue Service, claiming over $24,000 in tax refunds.
According to Stanley Vann, SAC, Denver Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation, "Prosecution of violations of the internal revenue laws serves to deter others, fosters voluntary compliance with the nation's tax laws, and increases the public confidence of conscientious taxpayers that the Service prosecutes violators."
Vann went on to say "the jury's pronouncement of guilty in this case is the result of the 'IRS Questionable Refund Program' administered by the IRS Criminal Investigation to combat the filing of false tax refund claims."
The Questionable Refund Program (QRP) is a nationwide program established in January of 1977. The QRP was designed to identify fraudulent returns, stop the payment of fraudulent refunds, and to refer identified fraudulent refund schemes to CI field offices. While the primary focus is on individual tax returns, business tax returns are also reviewed under the QRP. Since its inception, the QRP has detected over $1.4 billion in fraudulent refunds. In addition, QRP has been responsible for the identification of substantial abuses in other programs that has resulted in the savings of hundreds of millions of dollars from fraudulent schemes in abusive tax shelters and fraudulent claims for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Kenneth Harmon, Assistant United States Attorney, prosecuted the case.
For more information about the QRP see http://www.treas.gov/irs/ci.